Chelsea reportedly want Atletico Madrid’s centre-back Diego Godin to replace skipper John Terry, should the latter leave at the end of the season.
The Blues captain has stated in recent weeks that he’s set to depart the club when his contract is up, and his influence will be hugely difficult to replace at the heart of the back four. According to AS, citing reports from England (h/t Football Espana), Godin has been isolated as a candidate to take the job on.
Here is a reminder of why the Atletico man is rated as one of the top defenders in world football, having blossomed under Diego Simeone at the Vicente Calderon:
This season, Godin has been magnificent at the base of the Atletico Madrid side, with the team conceding a meagre 11 goals in 23 La Liga matches. Here’s how he compares statistically in league matches to Terry:
|Tackles per game||2.6||0.9|
|Interceptions per game||3.5||1.7|
|Clearances per game||5.5||3.9|
|Blocks per game||0.3||0.8|
Stylistically, there may be no better replacement available for the Englishman. Like Terry, Godin is forceful in the air, strong in the tackle and superb at sniffing out danger. He’s a vocal presence at the back too, as well as a calm distributor and a player who chips in with crucial goals.
As Spanish football expert Sergi Dominguez noted here, the 29-year-old also possesses warrior-like qualities:
Godin played almost the entire game last night with a strained knee ligament. Even with that, he was impressive. Tells you a lot about him.— Sergi Domínguez (@FutbolSergi) January 31, 2016
Where he obviously falls short of Terry is when it comes to a relationship with Chelsea. The Blues skipper has steered this team to many successes during his time at the club and while he’s now in the twilight of his career, his presence around the place is still paramount to the Londoners performing to their best.
However, the club will have to move on one day and it’d be little surprise if they were considering replacements for their talismanic skipper. Football writer Seb Stafford-Bloor gave his take on the situation:
The year is 2026 and, here at Stamford Bridge, the Chelsea fans are still demanding that John Terry be given a contract extension.— Seb Stafford-Bloor (@SebSB) February 7, 2016
Godin would be hugely difficult to prise away from the Spanish capital. Not only is he in the peak years of his career and has a clear affinity with manager Diego Simeone, Chelsea are not currently a more attractive proposition than Atletico, who will be in the Champions League next season.
Reports seem to suggest Chelsea are willing to spend big in the summer, though. According to John Cross of the Daily Mirror, Napoli’s star centre-forward Gonzalo Higuain is a target for the Blues, who are willing to pay £40 million to bring the Argentina international to the club.
“Higuain is understood to have been concerned that Chelsea made it clear that Diego Costa was to remain as their first choice striker for the rest of the campaign,” wrote Cross, who stated Chelsea made an offer for the forward last month. “That is unlikely to stop Chelsea going back for Higuain in the summer with Atletico Madrid also keen to re-sign Costa, their former striker.”
As we can see here courtesy of Squawka Football, Higuain has been in sensational goalscoring form in 2015-16, pushing Napoli to the summit of the Serie A table:
Gonzalo Higuain scores his 24th goal in his 24th Serie A game of the season.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 7, 2016
Can't stop scoring right now. pic.twitter.com/8Qp2dcf24Q
Which player would be the better signing for Chelsea?
Chelsea are likely to face issues similar to a chase for Godin if they were to go after Higuain.
Like Atletico, Napoli may not be considered as an elite European club, but they’re challenging for the domestic title this term and will likely be fighting it out in the Champions League in the next one. Languishing down in 13th position, it’s unlikely the Blues will be.
It’s going to make for an intriguing summer at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea’s ability to attract the top players in the game will likely be tested significantly. With their captain also potentially on the move and a new manager coming in, a spell of significant transition may well be in store for the Blues.